One Competitor’s Experience at Fight To Win Pro

Photo Credit Caitlin Propst

I recently competed at Fight to Win Pro 32, and given that it was the first time that a Jiu Jitsu Times writer has had the opportunity to compete in one of this esteemed organization’s events, I thought it would be interesting to explore my experience so that people who may be interested in being featured on one of these cards can know what to expect.

A few months back, the owner of the biggest local tournament circuit (American Grappling Challenge), Dustin Ware, and the official Fight To Win Promotions Facebook pages made a glorious post: Fight To Win is coming to Cleveland!

This Friday, April 21st at @f2wpro 32 here in #cleveland #Ohio I will put on a show.. There will be more hijinx and…

Posted by Emil Fischer on Wednesday, April 19, 2017

As soon as I saw this, I applied.  I have been absolutely enamored with the idea of competing on a live streamed card like this for a long time.  I’ve always wanted my name exclaimed over the loudspeakers as I walk out to music of my choosing and engage in a jiu-jitsu match with an opponent on a raised stage.  Quite frankly, it was one of those dreams I never thought would come true.

I received a match offer at the beginning of March, and I accepted it.  I had competed against this opponent a couple of times prior. He was tough and the format we competed in both times was no time limit sub only.  It took me over 20 minutes each time to win, and had we competed under Fight To Win rules, I would have lost both matches by decision.  So I had my work cut out for me.

As the event neared, I planned my strategy: I drilled, cross trained, and focused heavily on what I needed to do to win this match.  I didn’t get much communication from the event owners, and honestly the entire time I felt like the process was a bit disorganized, but honestly none of this wound up being of any consequence, and any apprehension or uncertainty was greatly overshadowed by how amazing the event was.

The day before the event we had weigh-ins at the venue.  The venue seemed inappropriate for this kind of event; it was an indoor soccer stadium, but like the rest of the experience, Seth Daniels and his crew made it work.  We checked in, got paid in cash immediately for our ticket sales, and were given a final rundown of the rule set, this time in person.

I stepped on the scale for my weigh in for Fight To Win Pro 32 with a #donut and an #applefritter. Why? You may ask……

Posted by Emil Fischer on Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The day of the event was, mercifully, uneventful.  We were told to be there by 5pm, which honestly was a bit early, but I obliged and as a result was able to get a decent parking spot (something I found out later was an issue for latecomers who had to park down the street).  I arrived, checked in, and made my way over to the preparation area.

Upon arriving at the preparation area, I found my coach, the owner of our gym, the UFC heavyweight champ (a fellow member of team Strong Style,) and the remainder of our competitors there, relaxing and waiting for the first match of the night, which featured a kid from our team.  From then on, the event ran like a well-oiled machine.  Each match took place almost exactly when it was scheduled.

The walkout in and of itself was a special experience. I had my own personal antics and shenanigans planned, but I think anyone would feel amazing walking down the lit catwalk towards the stage.  Music choices were made by the competitors; lighting and imagery to be displayed on the large screen were chosen by Seth Daniels himself.  I thought he did a great job with each of the competitors.

I can't believe I got paid to do this… Photo credit to Mike Calimbas Photography. I think I understand why you're…

Posted by Emil Fischer on Thursday, April 27, 2017

My major complaint about the event was the relative subjectivity of the decision process.  Because the competition is slated as submission only, with submission attempts being given substantially more weight than anything else, someone could look like they were winning the match but the opponent may be given the W.  I guess that’s what happens when you leave it up to the judges.

Upon stepping off the stage, competitors were paid. In my case, it was hard cold cash.  Winning was satisfying.  Winning in front of a large crowd in spectacular and decisive fashion was satisfying.  But there’s something special about being handed a wad of cash for your efforts.  The money won’t be life changing, and I heard that the promoter makes more from these sorts of events than MMA events because they have to pay MMA fighters more, but the reality is how many of us actually get to compete for free and then get paid to do so if we win?  It’s a rare and special opportunity.

Purchase prints & downloads + view the complete gallery at

Posted by Mike Calimbas Photography on Saturday, April 22, 2017

After the event I found out that they had filled 1100 seats.  That number didn’t include the competitors and coaches that stuck around after.  The energy in the room was electrifying.

All the matches are now available at, but unfortunately there are rules in place against competitors posting their own videos of their matches.  I feel like that is the one and only valid complaint anyone can have, but it’s a minor complaint all things considered.  If you want to see what it looks like when a member of the Jiu-Jitsu Times staff competes at a Fight To Win Pro event check it out here.

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in such an amazing event, and if given a chance to do so again in the future, I would gladly take it.

Have any of our other readers stepped onto that raised mat?  And if so what was your experience?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here